ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 18, 2016)–Stakes winning Path of David and talented upstarts Tiz a Billy, True Brilliance, Hot Ore, He’s a Tiger and Iron Rob all loom prominently as a half dozen 3-year-olds go 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in Sunday’s $75,000 Baffle Stakes.
Trained by Kristin Mulhall, Path of David rallied from off the pace to win the one mile turf Eddie Logan Stakes here on Dec. 31 and was subsequently well beaten by top Derby hopeful Mor Spirit in the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 6.
The return to turf and massive drop in class should benefit Path of David, a Kentucky-bred gelding by the Gone West stallion, Istan. Owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash and Janet Alley, Path of David broke his maiden three starts back going one mile on turf at Del Mar Nov. 28, and will hope to be flying the final eighth of a mile in his first try down Santa Anita’s unique hillside layout. With both of his lifetime wins coming on turf, he’s made seven overall starts and has earnings of $90,900.
Tiz a Billy, who is trained by Brian Koriner, comes off a scintillating 6 ½ length maiden special weight win over the course at 1-2, and need only run back to that race to have a huge chance in the Baffle. Blessed with an abundance of speed, Tiz a Billy rated well in third position after a half mile and finished up like a horse with a future in his maiden tally.
Owned by James Cahill, Neil Haymes and Janet Lyons, the Kentucky-bred colt by Tizway was second, beaten a nose, down the hill two starts back on Oct. 12 and will be making his sixth career start on Sunday.
A 9 ½ length maiden winner going six furlongs on the main track Jan. 23, trainer Robertino Diodoro’s True Brilliance is also very quick early and will be trying turf and open company for the first time. A chestnut gelding by Unusual Heat, True Brilliance, who is owned by his breeder, Mercedes Stables, LLC, will be making his fourth career start. Favored twice, he has a pair of second place finishes to go along with his maiden win. Ridden in all three of his starts by Tyler Baze, he’ll be handled for the first time by Fernando Perez.
Diodoro will also saddle another Mercedes Stables homebred, Hot Ore, who retains the services of Baze and will be making his seventh career start on Sunday. Like his stablemate, he too, is a gelding by Unusual Heat. A close second in the one mile Del Mar Juvenile Turf three starts back on Sept. 5, he comes off an even fifth place finish in the Grade III, one mile turf Cecil B. DeMille Stakes on Nov. 29.
An impressive one mile turf maiden special weight winner versus open company here four starts back on June 26, Hot Ore is fresh and would appear to be the mount of choice for Baze leading into the Baffle. With an overall mark of 6-1-2-1, he has earnings of $84,156.
Trainer Jeff Bonde’s He’s a Tiger, undefeated in two starts sprinting on Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic Tapeta, ships south and will get the services of Rafael Bejarano. A Kentucky-bred colt by Sky Mesa, he’s out of the Helmsman mare, Red Duchess, which would suggest he could have an affinity for turf. Owned by Aldrich, Daou and Downey, pressed the early pace in his 4 ½ furlong maiden win on May 16, and rallied from off the pace in winning a first condition allowance going six furlongs on Dec. 5.
Supplemented at a cost of $1,500, Florida-bred Iron Rob was a handy 3 ¾ length maiden special weight winner going 5 ½ furlongs on dirt at Los Alamitos two starts back on Dec. 4. A bay colt by Twirling Candy, he was well beaten here in a first condition allowance going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track Jan. 3. Trained by George Papaprodromou, Iron Rob showed the way early before being well beaten in his only try on turf, going one mile against maidens on Nov. 8 at Del Mar.
Owned by Kretz Racing, LLC, Iron Rob, who is 8-1-2-0 overall, should be attentive to the early pace in the Baffle.
The complete field for the $75,000 Baffle Stakes, to be run as the second race on a nine-race card Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Tiz a Billy, Flavien Prat, 120; Iron Rob, Santiago Gonzalez, 120; Hot Ore, Tyler Baze, 120; He’s a Tiger, Rafael Bejarano, 122; Path of David, Joe Talamo, 124, and True Brilliance, Fernando Perez, 120.
First post time on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.